C&W Chamber reacts to GDP figures

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The statistics show that we are still some way off a sustained recovery following the worst economic crisis many can remember.

“And, of course, the economic contraction in the final quarter of 2012 means we could face the prospect of a triple-dip recession.

“Some believe that the GDP figures are too negative when compared with other surveys and statistics – certainly the unemployment figures and our own Quarterly Economic Survey don’t suggest a contracting economy.

“I do believe that talk of a recession really put the fear into businesses four or five years ago but we have been living with these words for several years now and, in many cases, companies take the attitude that they have to control their own destiny rather than be bogged down by the wider issues.

“That said, regardless of whether we saw growth of 0.3 per cent or a contraction of 0.3 per cent, the importance of the job in hand remains the same.

“The economy needs to be rebalanced. We need to see more people starting businesses, we need to see more companies exporting and we need to see firms given the freedom and the tools to expand and take on new staff.

“This latest news on GDP brings the Budget in March firmly into focus and puts a major onus on the Chancellor to continue with his deficit reduction plan but put measures into place that help growth.

“For instance, could he be bolder when it comes to encouraging companies to take on new staff?

“We also need to see initiatives such as the business bank brought forward and established because accessing finance is still an issue.

“From the perspective of businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire, I would urge them to look at new markets both at home and abroad.

“Get out and network through organisations such as the Chamber and take advantage of the help being offered through UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) to export.”